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In the Sweet By and By

Eric’s grandmother’s funeral was today. It was actually quite a lovely service, but I do struggle with the experience of being an outsider from a religious standpoint. The family isn’t overly religious, including the dearly departed, but ministers will talk quite a bit about Jesus if you let them.

I think the part that bothers me is that, in a small way, I really do sort of wish I could believe that we all get to go home to a loving deity when we die. But I can’t ever believe such a thing, so when a guy stands up there telling me about it, I can’t help feeling like a child whose parents are feeding them the story about how the dog has been sent to the farm.

Anyway, they’re good people, my in-laws. I’m glad to know them. And I am grateful to all of you for your kind words of comfort over the last week.

Comments

chadu
Jul. 27th, 2006 02:20 pm (UTC)
I think the part that bothers me is that, in a small way, I really do sort of wish I could believe that we all get to go home to a loving deity when we die. But I can’t ever believe such a thing, so when a guy stands up there telling me about it, I can’t help feeling like a child whose parents are feeding them the story about how the dog has been sent to the farm.

I dig that you can't believe it, but consider: sometimes the dog has really and truly been sent to the farm (or farm equivalent).

What bugs me is when people start talking about how great the farm is, how it has a duckpond and hayrides, and how Mrs. MacDonald makes great apple cobbler -- but they've never been to the farm themselves, nor have they talked to anyone who's been to the farm. They're relying on a traveller's diary report, written and translated from Chinese, from 1900. And the diarist -- much less the farm itself or the MacDonalds -- may not actually have been a real person.

CU
fenriss
Jul. 27th, 2006 07:25 pm (UTC)
Umm... quite.

But there's no farm. Not one we can take our consciousness to. Maybe the energy that animates us gets to return to some Cosmic Sameness, or something, but there's no way there could be a "me" to experience that. Not without neurotransmitters or neurons.

So I don't believe there's a farm, and I get a little angry with people for trying to comfort me with lies, however beautiful they may be.
chadu
Jul. 27th, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC)
But there's no farm. Not one we can take our consciousness to. Maybe the energy that animates us gets to return to some Cosmic Sameness, or something, but there's no way there could be a "me" to experience that.

I hold that we cannot know if there's a farm or not. I also hold that we don't understand consciouness/identity well enough to tell if there'll be any "me" there.

I am irked equally by statements of "heaven exists and is exactly like this" and "death is oblivion."

Ahhhh, agnostics: the bisexuals of the theological world. The theists diss you for not singing along to their hymnbook and the skeptics diss you for wanting to sing. :)

Not without neurotransmitters or neurons.

Personally, I don't ascribe to what some long-haired philosopher called "nothingbutness" -- I don't think we're just the sum of our gooshy bits.

I could, of course, be completely wrong.

So I don't believe there's a farm, and I get a little angry with people for trying to comfort me with lies, however beautiful they may be.

I can understand that: not a fan of lies. However, I offer that the lie here is the beautifulosity of the farm. (The simple existence of the farm being unprovable.)

I myself dislike it when people throw their particular vision of heaven at me to comfort me, but I find myself wondering if they phrased it as an "I hope so-and-so is in HappyFunTimeLand" or an "I feel that so-and-so is in HappyFunTimeLand" rather than "So-and-so is in HappyFunTimeLand right now, drinking pinot noir and playing the timpani" if it'd bug me as much.

Note that I'm not trying to change your mind about anything, or force my views on you. Just talking about my personal feelings. If you don't think there's a farm, bully for you. I think there's a good chance that there's a farm out there, but I have no idea what it's like, and get ticked at people telling me how it is rather than how they hope it is.

*hugs*

CU
rionnkelly
Jul. 27th, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, when my dad was "on his final approach" he was still pretty lucid right up to the end. It was interesting to watch how his attention seemed to be taken up by something fascinating taking place on the ceiling. When I asked him to describe it to me, he told me that he really wished he could, but there were no words...

I think the french were onto something when they coined the term "petit mort" as a euphemism for the orgasm. Nobody quite experiences an orgasm the same way anybody else does--and I think it's much the same way with death. Sure, there are the physiological similarities, but as to the psychological, emotional and spiritual aspect of it--to each his or her own.

As for "the farm," it's there for you if you believe it's there, and if you don't it's not. Take the comforting gestures for what they are and don't let yourself get hung up on the language.

Having just had a refresher course on that, trust me, I know what I'm talking about.

Love to you both!

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